NHL 2023-24 futures: Best bets to win the Norris Trophy
Winning the Norris Trophy once is extremely difficult. Winning it twice in a row in this day and age is borderline impossible.
We haven't seen a single repeat winner over the past 15 years. The last player to string together back-to-back Norris wins was Nicklas Lidstrom in 2005-08.
Where does the value lie in this year's race? Let's take a closer look.
Rasmus Dahlin (+800)
Dahlin took a massive step forward last season, setting career highs in goals (15) and points (73) while helping the Sabres to their highest win total in more than a decade.
Dahlin wasn't a power-play merchant or an empty-calorie offensive producer who gave it all back at the other end of the ice. He tied for seventh among defensemen in five-on-five points, recording more than stars like Roman Josi, Quinn Hughes, and Miro Heiskanen. Dahlin also drove play at a high level, leading the Sabres in expected goals for percentage at five-on-five.
Really, Dahlin did it all. The only thing lacking was team success to help compensate for the gap in production between him and the winner, Erik Karlsson.
Besides maybe Cale Makar, it's unlikely any blue-liner will finish an obvious tier above the rest in points. If Dahlin can put together another 70-plus-point campaign on a high-flying Sabres team that fights its way back to relevancy, he will garner a lot of attention.
Miro Heiskanen (+1200)
For years, many people - myself included - gushed about Heiskanen's game. His effortless skating, stout defense, and ability to log all the ice time he was given without seeming to tire always stood out. What was missing was the offense. Everyone thought he had the tools to be a prolific point producer, but he had to go out and do it.
Heiskanen finally made that leap last year, piling up 73 points in 79 games for a very strong Stars team. That wasn't enough to make him a Norris finalist, but he was on the radar, finishing one voting point outside of the top six.
Heiskanen is one of the best defenders in the sport. If he can replicate that sort of production, he'll get a lot of votes as a dominant two-way force.
Evan Bouchard (+3500)
My true wild card is Bouchard. He put up 40 points last season while playing second fiddle to Tyson Barrie on the Oilers' power play for much of the year.
With Barrie out of the picture and Darnell Nurse somewhat limited in his playmaking abilities, Bouchard should be Edmonton's full-time power play quarterback in 2023-24. That carries a ton of weight.
It's no exaggeration to say the Oilers are one of the best power-play teams I've ever seen. They are historically dominant and will remain so as long as they have Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at the peak of their powers.
Simply sharing the ice with those two means Bouchard will be out there for a ton of goals and will enjoy an abundance of opportunities to collect points.
Bouchard isn't a matchup defenseman like Heiskanen, so he needs outrageous offensive outputs to give him a fighting chance. Given his situation, I think it's possible, even if it may not be likely. At +3500, Bouchard is a worthwhile flier.
Todd Cordell is a sports betting writer at theScore. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @ToddCordell.
- Larkin exits after scary scene vs. Sens, Perron ejected for retaliation
- How the Broad Street Bullies saved the NHL's reputation in 1976
- Samsonov records 1st shutout of season as Leafs prevail over Preds
- Report: Wild's Brodin to miss significant time due to injury
- Underrated, undersized Spurgeon is improbably one of NHL's best D-men